Just a story I wrote while commuting. Completely unedited so don’t be surprised if you see a lot of spelling/grammar errors and sentences that don’t make sense…
“Come on boys,” Linn said to her two best summertime friends, “we can’t sit here and play video games all day.”
Freddie and Tim looked at each other wondering what she wanted to do. Tim said, “didn’t you suggest we play video games? Why the change?”
Linn rolled her eyes, but she knew it was best not to demand. She explained, “do you have any idea what’s on Cow Island?”
“Cows,” Freddie ventured.
“Wrong, it’s adventure!”
The boys reluctantly agreed and off they went on their little boat across the small channel that separated them from Cow Island. They arrived like triumphant heroes, with Linn leading, but there wasn’t a soul, cow or human, where they landed.
A short walk up a shaded path lead them deeper into Cow Island and an eerie feeling as they came across a lonesome cow. With joy, Linn stroked the cow.
Tim knew something was wrong. He turned and saw a group of twenty bulls staring at them from the top of the path and he panicked, “run guys!”
The three friends scattered, with Linn jumping into rose bushes and the boys climbing over electrified fences to escape the starting stampede.
When the dust from the stampede settled, the boys wandered back to check on Linn, hiding in her thorny armour. A few bumps and cuts, but she was fine. As they walked back to their boat, holding hands and full of life, one thing was certain: there was indeed adventure on Cow Island.
A drone flew over head making a buzzing zipping type of noise that quickly alerted you to its presence and was just as quickly gone again as it continued its predefined security circuit. They were harder to hear from within the walls of the Psy Ward where Eric was still being held, but the sounds appeared and disappeared sure as anything rhythmic. It had frustrated Eric at first as it felt like the maddening soundtrack to his demise for no other reason than the fact he was doing something slightly different, though not wholly unusual, than your standard third lifer by keeping all of his memories intact and not taking on any alterations for his original form. Now it mattered less. The Clerks has finished their lengthy evaluation of over two months now and found nothing that could legally allow them to keep him.
Instead of the mechanised Clerks that had escorted him into the Psy Ward, Eric was treated to an escort by the head Clerk. Some sort of way of mild apology whilst also keeping Eric away from the Clerk who had originally interred him. It was clear from the evaluations that Eric hadn’t lost his mind, but he was highly likely to act violently to that particular Clerk. This head Clerk who was escorting Eric, called Head by his Siblings of the Order, was silently walking Eric back over the moat he had originally crossed and into a new building which led outdoors.
A light canopy of a leafy green crawling plant partially covered the courtyard which greeted Eric at the exit to the Order’s compound. Daggers of sunshine pierced the canopy at random intervals providing for a joyful sight indeed after days spent staring at a floor, ceiling and walls that were identical. As he strolled through the courtyard with his escort he breathed in the salty fresh sea air and enjoyed the slight lashings of the refreshing breeze. In the distance he could see the deep blue ocean, most likely of the Pacific. The island was truly beautiful.
Eric wasn’t sure if he had been here before or not. He had of course been rebirthed once, but it’s a memory they remove far before any forms are ever filled in. Probably before he even left the compound or a compound on his first rebirth. Logically you’d think the Order had more than one location for rebirthing so as to be able to quickly move in the event that someone discovered their compound, but it was impossible to know.
“I trust there won’t be any trouble stemming from your visit,” the Head asked.
“Trouble is usually in my nature,” Eric replied with the smirk of a mischief maker, before sending this was no times for jokes and added, “But there won’t be any trouble for me here.”
The Head has obviously expected some response like this in the end, but it was always a good final test. “Very good then. We shan’t be seeing you again, so please do enjoy a long and fulfilling final life and rest in peace thereafter.”
With that he bowed and left Eric standing on a small cliff edge overlooking the water.
What was probably hours but could have been months or years for all Eric knew passed and the last memory he had was of the water crushing around him. He had been successfully rebirthed, which was one small, but significant step. There was always the possibility that he’d be caught up in the bureaucratic process of the Order and be stuck in some compound until his dying days. At the very least he had not suffered that particular fate.
Waking up after rebirth is a odd sensation the first time and as with anything do strange, slightly easier the second. Still, being walked to a random location and having your memory wiped back to the point for your death is a lot to handle. The word ‘lost’ doesn’ quite cover it. It is indeed a good place to start, but being lost is some sort of journey leading to a realisation that you don’t know where you are. Whether it’s being physically or mentally lost, this holds true. Instead, the feeling Eric had was what you have when you realise you are in fact lost, instantaneously.
Pain lingered fresh in his mind as he looked around the pub he now, miraculously he felt, sat in. This was a traditional pub that could easily have been the same in the 20th century as it was now. There were three cask ale pumps positioned in the middle of a bar that looked as though it had been made from an ancient tree. Eric sat in a small cubby off in the dark corner next to the toilet entrance. He wondered if leaving him near the stink of toilets in an outdated drinking establishment was the Order’s way of making a joke.
As thoughts and memories cane flooding back into his head much like the water rushing into his submarine, his demeanour changed from dumb struck to pensive. While the toilet positioning was surely a joke, he also thought that the pub was. Unfortunately for their little joke, Eric loved pubs of all shapes and sizes. They had drink, people, limited music and no food to distract. This was not to be mistaken as a dislike of food, Eric loved food, he just wanted food separate from the pub, where you went to drink.
Eric stood up and approached the pre lunchtime pub, the calm before the lunchtime storm of ‘quick ones’. The barman nodded as he approached and wordlessly gestures as if to ask what drink Eric wanted. A pint of Guinness is what Eric wanted, so he pointed to the sleek extra cold tap and that’s what he got. No fuss, exactly as Eric liked. He remained at the bar, in the far corner of it away from the barman where he found a stool to rest on.
His Guinness did that lovely thing it did where the bubbles descended and slowly the black and white parted from each other signalling that it was ready to drink. Eric took a big sip and sighed with contentment. With that dip, it felt felt to him as if he was free from the crushing sensation of his death. The Order defined rebirth as when you’ve back in the form you’ve requested, but this was the true rebirth for Eric.
The Clerks sat on an oval bench made of a hard gray stone. They sat looking in the centre of the oval at the most technologically advanced piece of kit that the Siblings possessed outside of the rebirthing chambers. It was similar to a security system of old, but without the need for actual cameras as micro cameras were laced in the paint that covered the walls of the compound. Most guests weren’t stupid enough to expect privacy in their rooms, but none knew how truly invasive the surveillance was. Every move of every person was meticulously tracked and analysed and could be watched from these oval break rooms such as that that the two Clerks interviewing Eric now sat at.
This place was not known for its creature comforts or design, but the Oval rooms were particularly pleasant places as they were out of sight of guests and the Clerks spent the majority of their spare time there. Clerks such as those who had interviewed Eric argued that this was a purely observational undertaking and that it underscored their professionalism. Arguably this could be true though most Clerks privately admitted that their only real sin was being snoopy. It was in effect The Sin of the Clerks. It kept them going through their drab existence.
Without much consideration, the original clerk that interviewed Eric swiped the air over the center pit of the oval which was like a large screen floating above the floor. He had moved on to other guests at this point, but his mind lingered on Eric Anglegot. Why would such a person be so reckless with their second life and yet seem so perfectly normal going into their third and final life? There was no nervousness or anxiety. No odd tweaks or signs of trying to move into his final life with a higher regard for the human life and its sanctity when there are no more chances. Eric was completely normal, which was very odd.
The clerk swiped the lower corner of the screen with a twisting motion which made that corner show Eric’s room, while the main bit still showed the video of a women who had grown old in the Clerk’s care as she cited their misdeeds and trespasses in a slow and rhythmic mantra. She had been there the longest whilst still being sane, though very determined and angry.
They lounged back on the oval bench, one lying on his back facing the ceiling, deep in thought, and the other with his elbows on his knees and fingers loosely clutched together whilst staring at the screen. His eyes flitted between the small corner showing Eric and the large view of the woman, the so called ancient one.
“What is she still doing here after all these years, unchanging,” asked the second to the original clerk, “it just doesn’t make sense that she’d be able to continue with the same tirade for so long.”
After a brief contemplation, the original clerk shook his head and responded, “there’s plenty of resolve in humans, it just doesn’t usually show itself so profoundly in an individual. When it does though, it’s absolutely boundless.”
“Interesting, but then why are you keeping her on the screen so prominently if you understand her?”
“There’s something calming and known about her presence. It’s as if I know her movements and motivations so well that my mind can switch off watching her. I’ve kept Eric in the corner so that hopefully my relaxed mind can pick up on something in him on the periphery.”
“Presumably there hasn’t been anything yet?”
“Correct. Some of his more pronounced exercise routines catch my eye yet clearly yield no secrets. I’m not even convinced there any secrets. Though the oddness of his aircraft carrier remark is fascinating.”
“An interesting puzzle. I’m minded that we have another interview to attend. Shall we?”
In unison, they stood up, shut off the corner showing Eric and unmuted the screen. As they exited the room, the ancient one’s mantra came ringing into the corridor…these heathens control life in a manner which we have never agreed they should and as such we must sue for emancipation and a repatriation of our rights.
Eric wasn’t going to sue the government or the Clerks so there wasn’t really any reason to hold him and they couldn’t for much more than another day. Still, that day may get bear fruit, so the Clerk made his decision and called his colleagues together after their daily interviews to ensure Eric Anglegot was fully observed and analysed in the time he had remaining. If there was something to find, they would.